A father and daughter encounter unexplainable occurrences and frightening visions in their new home.
The of Poltergeist Activity follows David Prescott (Lee Bane) who, a year after the death of his wife, moves with his teenage daughter, Katherine (Natalie Martins), a keen photographer, to a century-old house in the Welsh countryside. Straight away, things seem a little strange – his neighbour, an elderly woman named Mrs Blankenship (Judith Haley), seems overly concerned about the two of them moving into the secluded farmhouse. Of course, her explaining the building’s terrible history this early on would ruin the whole film; so, naturally, she’s just here to create a little unease in the viewer.
There’s quite a bit of tension between David and his daughter – she seems to blame him in some way for the death of her mother, or otherwise just resent his behaviour. Regardless, it’s the source of many arguments. After one such dispute, Katherine is alone in her room. In tears, she pours over the photographs she’s taken of the house, only to come across the image of a mysterious figure standing in one of the windows. On top of that, while they’re unpacking, Katherine finds a strange porcelain doll of a clown in her room. Thinking nothing of this creepy discovery, she sets it aside and all but forgets about it until later that night, when she throws it into her wardrobe, only to awake the next morning with it sitting in the chair beside her bed.
Meanwhile, we see David’s bedsheets in their frail attempt to strangle him. It’s not especially scary – this scene in particular was quite comical, if anything. In spite of all these strange occurrences, David doesn’t seem convinced that there’s anything wrong with the house. Rather, he thinks that Katherine is deliberately misbehaving in order to hurt him. The whole thing comes to a head when Katherine invites her friend Alex (Sam Harding) to the house while David is out. The two of them witness a strange, hooded figure wearing a mask walking around upstairs, and Alex flees in terror. When Katherine tries to explain the situation to her father, he completely loses his temper, calling her selfish (among other things).
During the night, after their huge argument, David and Katherine both experience the supernatural to a much greater extent – David is attacked by the doll they discovered in Katherine’s room (which, by this point, has already been thrown away in the bin outside the house) while Katherine is restrained and beaten by an invisible being. Objects in the house shake violently and the pictures on the wall are smashed inside their frames. Once David is able to break free from the doll, he rescues Katherine and the two exit the house, only to be met with a worried Mrs Blankenship.
Finally, she reveals the reasons for the supernatural goings on in the house – it turns out that the original owner, Frederick Necros, a cruel man, was beaten and strangled in his sleep by one of his slaves. Since then, the house has been plagued by the paranormal, and many believe that the Necros family are behind the hauntings. The clown doll, too, is explained – it was originally given to the daughter of Frederick Necros under the guise of a gift, when in reality it was imbued with voodoo magic by one of the slave women.
Desperate, David turns to a retired paranormal investigator, one Hans Voltz (Jared Morgan). Together with Ethel McKenzie (Patricia Ford), a medium with whom Voltz has worked on several occasions, they opt to conduct a séance in the farmhouse in the hopes of placating the restless spirit within. It seems to have the exact opposite effect, however; the ghost of Necros possesses Ethel, telling the others that they will all die, before forcing her to stab Mrs Blankenship in the neck with a pencil. Ethel then appears to have a heart attack (or something equally debilitating) as the house begins to shake violently around them.
Katherine retreats to her bedroom, only to find herself being dragged away from her bed by the poltergeist. Meanwhile, the creepy clown doll attempts to strange Holtz. David frees him before helping Katherine down the stairs and out of the house. Once again, the masked figure appears, but makes no real attempt to stop them. The two of them dive into the car, seemingly abandoning Holtz (we can assume that Ethel and Mrs Blankenship are goners by this point), and drive off into the distance. And that’s it. They get out of the car, embrace, look back at the house, and then the credits roll. Boom.
Honestly, I found the ending to be really disappointing – more than the ending, in fact. The whole thing was pretty bad. Despite the fact that Holtz clearly states that the spirit may be tied to them, and that leaving the house wouldn’t necessarily end their torment, there’s no hint at the idea that maybe, just maybe, they were followed by evil forces after their escape. That would at least provide some tension. There’s no real closure. You never find out what happened to the house, or any of the people they left behind inside it. At best, you get an inkling that the relationship between David and Katherine has improved a little over the course of the film.
Even though the story was very cliché, it did have the potential to be scary. I’m not sure what kind of budget they had set aside in order to realise Poltergeist Activity, but it comes across as cheap and not particularly well executed. The ‘special effects’ were almost non-existent – and I’m not saying that a film needs special effects, practical or otherwise, in order to be good. But someone walking around in a blanket and a mask you could have picked up for buttons at a costume shop doesn’t scream ‘terror’ to me.
As well as that, the ‘entity’ haunting the house isn’t really explained beyond ‘There was a guy, and he was evil, and he was murdered,’ which is weak at best. If he was angry at having been killed by one of his slaves, why would he then go on to torture and torment random people who moved into the house for over a century? He needed more of a motive than simply being a horrible person. Nobody is just evil.
A lot of the camera work was quite shaky, and the music, while intended to give the film a creepy vibe, was loud and distracting during many scenes. It would probably be better without, but I don’t think that I ever want to watch this film again, so I’ll never know.
Even though Poltergeist Activity was a good eighty minutes long, nothing much actually happened. The whole thing felt like a build-up to something which never came along; so, naturally, it wasn’t very enjoyable. There’s good bad horror, and then there’s just bad horror. This fits the bill.